estuary

Jo’s Monday walk : Ferragudo

An artist could rarely want for inspiration in Ferragudo.  Nestled in the mouth of the River Arade, blinking sleepily across at booming Portimáo, the village almost restores your faith in the Algarve that was.  I had come for a very special boat trip, but first I need to set the scene.

A more painterly sky I have never seen, gossamer white clouds drifting lazily out to sea.  As you wander into town, it’s hard to avoid the evidence of artists at work.  The fisherfolk cast their nets, fore and aft, and count their catch.

A tidy tangle of lobster pots adorn the quayside, as lobster pots ought.  Cobbled and petal carpeted streets creep upwards from the bombeiros, the fire brigade rarely essential in such a watery realm.

A castle on a beach!  Who’d have thought it?  A romantic image juxtaposed with modern marina on the far shore.  Newly laid stone walls, protecting the villas of today with remnants of yesterday.

Slow steps leading upwards to the church and a sublime outlook.  Narrow alleys to follow, back down to shore and sea.

Lying in wait on the harbourside, more industry.  A little gossip.  A snooze.  A shy maiden.

Azulejos tell life as it was, and never will be again, but life goes steadily on here in Ferragudo.  Gently, thoughtfully, without haste.

Back on the quayside all is calm, but fisherfolk are always busy.

The sun sets as they scull homewards, one last gaze sweeping the bay, ensuring all is well.

walking logo

I hope you enjoyed sharing Ferragudo and the Arade estuary with me.  I do believe it’s a special place.  And now it’s time to share some of your walks.  Many thanks for keeping me company here on Jo’s Monday walk

………………………………………………………………………………………

Still wandering happily in Dublin, with Eunice :

Another day in Dublin – Part 2

Lady Lee takes one last look at Japan :

Dotonbori

What’s Jackie got for us this week?

Food stand

Oops, missed Joe last week!

Jo’s Monday Walk – I call it the Super Walk

Street art is best when it makes you think, like this from Ulli :

Artbase Festival 2019 – Murals in Rural Ruins

Drake rarely abandons me :

Abandoned stories

And I try to keep track of Denzil, whenever I can :

16km hike around Orp-Jauche

While Cathy Caminos on :

(Camino day 37) Ponferrada to Cacabelos

And Carol explores a little of Western Australia.  Pop in for scones, why don’t you?

Outback History

That’s it from me for now.  Life continues to be hectic, in a good way.  More visitors arrived last night so we’ll be exploring the Algarve together.  I’ll catch up with you all when I can.  Stay well and be happy!

Castro Marim and the estuary

It’s an odd thing!  Castro Marim is one of the most peaceful spots I’ve ever come across.  Yet standing there, glowering, at the top of the hill, is a monumental castle.  Part of the ramparts that once surrounded the town provide wonderful contrast in the domestic scene above.

Looking out from the battlements across the broad sweep of estuary, the town of Ayamonte, on the Spanish side of the River Guadiana, looks like many another.  But as your eyes travel along the shore, you might spot the fortifications at the top of the town.  This is the pattern all along this river, a natural boundary between Portugal and Spain. Like pugilists, ready to punch and counter punch, these two nations have squared up to each other down the years.  But today, thankfully, all is peace.

The castle walls and main church of Castro Marim

The castle walls and main church of Castro Marim

Castro Marim is a sleepy place, with one ancient street that straggles up towards the castle.  The nature of the shoreline and the shifting sands of the Algarve has much to do with this.  The first settlement here was back in the Neolithic period when Castro Marim was much closer to the sea than it is now, and surrounded by shallow waters.  For thousands of years Castro Marim was a port that offered shelter to the ships that sailed up the Guadiana to collect copper from inland mines. Romans and Phoenicians settled here and such was its prosperity that Castro Marim was connected to Lisbon by a Roman road.

The castle and fortified wall that surrounded the medieval town date from the 12th century, when border disputes had become commonplace. Castro Marim subsequently became the headquarters of the Order of Christ, but went into decline when these were transferred  to Tomar in Central Portugal.  The castle fell into disrepair and was replaced by the fort of São Sebastião on a hilltop on the opposite side of town.   The shifting sands did little to help the economy.

Today tourism has found Castro Marim in a small way.  New housing surrounds the old town.  The Architectural Museum in the partly restored castle tells of a fascinating past.  But essentially the town is as self contained as ever, only rousing from its slumber each August for the Medieval Fair.

A typical townhouse

A typical townhouse

Looking across the rooftops to the town wall

Looking across the rooftops to the town wall

And down from the church steps

And down from the church steps

Gardens in the newer part of town

Gardens in the newer part of town, and the Chapel of S. Antonio

With fountains and a windmill

You may remember that I mentioned Castro Marim in A gift from the sea.  You can gaze down on the salt pans of the nature reserve from the castle walls. And if you’re really lucky, you might catch a sight of the flamingos, stretching their wings in flight.  For a better chance of seeing them, try my walk through the salt marshes.

Flamingos on the salt pans (courtesy of Mike Bradley)

Flamingos on the salt pans (courtesy of Mike Bradley)

Where to next?  Maybe a tidal mill, or we could hop across the border.  Or even join the smart set at Vale de Lobo.  But not for golf.  Come along and see.